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May 11, 2002 | 1205 IST
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ICICI Bank plans entertainment, travel push

Freny Patel & Hemangi Balse

The Rs 1,000-billion ICICI Bank is eyeing entertainment and travel to aggressively grow its retail book in the current fiscal.

Having tied up with petro companies, and cellular operators, the largest private sector bank is now short-listing prospective players among airlines and travel agents to further offer customers a payment solution and value-added package.

The bank is also reaching out to students and has tied up with a residential school at Manipal for payment tuition fees and other facilities. It has also had preliminary discussions with hospitals for easier as payments of bills.

The bank is expanding its horizons to reach out to its customer needs and has recently tied up with Tirupati Devasthanam which will enable a devotee to offer his donations through ICICI bank.

"Since our focus is on retail we are looking at value addition," said ICICI Bank executive director Chanda Kochhar. The bank's gameplan is to address each different segment of customers and play the role of a payment solution provider -- be it through the Internet gateway, credit cards, ATM network or Internet banking, she added.

"We need a lot of different strategies to grow the retail book, and we intend to use partnership to offer value added packages to customers," Kochhar said.

Internationally, it has been statistically established that the two most frequent packages used by customers are 'travel-&-banking' and 'mobile-&-banking', said Kochhar, explaining why ICICI Bank is looking at tying up with players in these segments.

On Monday, ICICI Bank tied up with BPL Mobile to capitalise on its 1,006-ATM network and offer re-charge facility to BPL Mobile pre-paid customers.

The bank already has a similar deal with Bharti in Delhi and will extend the relationship with the Delhi-based cellular operator when it launches similar facilities in Calcutta tomorrow for AirTel customers.

"ATMs will become a hub for customers' payment requirement," said Kochhar, adding: "We intend to expand and spread our relationships to other circles."

ICICI Bank will maintain exclusivity with the cellular player for a period of three months. It does not make sense to tie up with all the partners together. Rather the modus operandi the private sector bank will follow is to "widen the spread and then deepen the market," she said.

"Through strategic partnerships, the idea is to grow the retail accounts by capitalising on each other's customer base by offering preferred rates or discounts on products," said Kochhar. BPL Mobile president and CEO F B Cardoso added: "The intention of partnerships is to get common customer base by cross-selling mutual products."

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